The Mortal Instruments City of Bones: Review

Looking better in black than the widows of our enemies…

So this Wednesday Crissy & I skipped out of work early (because: priorities!), donned our Shadowhunter gear (despite it being broiling hot — we needed some kind of cooling rune), and runed up to see the long-awaited The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.
And what did I think? Well, fantasy adaptation wise, it wasn’t the golden standard of Harry Potter (or at least that’s my golden standard), but it was a solid beginning for the series.

{Minor spoilers ahead!}

Some things that I thought were awesome:

  • Top marks to Lily Collins and Clary and Robert Sheehan as Simon — brava! They just nailed it. Most of the acting was good, in fact, with one notable exception (but we’ll save that for the next list). And I think Jamie Campbell Bower really proved to us Jace is less about the abs and more about the attitude (though he had the abs too!).
  • Everything looked fantastic: the sets (Toronto, you are a sexy Brooklyn), the costumes (although I would have liked to see some hilarious Simon tees), the special effects (that Ravener demon was soooo gross, and also pretty scary!)
  • Pacing: things moved along nicely and the movie covered a lot of ground without ever seeming rushed or too slow.
  • Getting to see Joceyln be all bad-ass Shadowhunter at the beginning was wonderful, since that’s not something we get to see in the book — it’s great to see the amazing Lena Headey let loose before she has to make like Sleeping Beauty for the rest of the film.
  • I loved that Valentine’s demons took the form of ravens — such a clever connection to Huginn and Muninn.
  • Fun fight scenes: loved Isabelle with that flame-spurting pack, especially.

Some things that were not-so-awesome:

  • Godfrey Gao as Magnus: while he did look the part (so handsome!), his delivery was sadly lacking. It was heartbreaking to see the most magnetic character of the series seem so wooden — Magnus’s real magic is how he can charm a room.
  • The script, at points, could have been better. The scene when Jace switches loyalties seemed abrupt (even more abrupt than in the book), as did Clary’s  realization Alec loved Jace, and the ending seemed like they were trying to mash all the important stuff from the end of the book together at the expense of natural interaction between Clary and Jace.
  • Exception to special effects excellence: schmaltzy fake fireflies and plants blooming in the greenhouse. Between that and the booming love anthem, things were getting pretty Disney-fied in there. I mean, it’s the greenhouse scene — it’s romantic enough on its own!
  • The silly floating portal bubbles. Unnecessary.

Some of the adaptation choices were interesting and made sense (sure, Simon doesn’t need to become a rat) although others were less successful (I missed the Renwick smallpox hospital — which was a better place for Jocelyn — and Alaric sacrificing himself for Luke), and some I found really troubling (Clary being an instant rune savant, and then using her powers to bibbity-bobbity-boo her trashed apartment? That totally trivializes her power and is one of those things that could be the easy answer to any future sticky situation, whether its a Valentine showdown or cold food at Taki’s).

So do I hope that we end up with more Mortal movies? By the Angel I do. There’s a great foundation here and it was super fun to have the Sight and see the Shadow World come to life in a whole new way. But I also think there’s room for these movies to be even better — I can’t wait to go to the next opening day.